Burmester 217 turntable £18,700 Review
January 9, 2023 §
Breaking down the sound of the Burmester 217 is ultimately self-defeating because it’s an extremely coherent sound. Going back to that Nic Jones album once more, his voice, guitar and fiddle playing demand a system that communicates music well, and that’s precisely what the 217 does so well. This album normally shows up a higher-mass turntable as being a bit ponderous and rhythmically challenged, but on the 217, it’s light, tight and beautifully ordered. Swap Nic Jones for Frank Sinatra singing ‘It Happened in Monterey’ [Songs For Swinging Lovers, Capitol] and the 217 nails it; both Nelson Riddle’s excellent scoring and Sinatra’s uncanny passing tones meld together exactly as you always knew they should.
My only real issue with the 217 is more ‘philosophical’ than ‘musical’. I’m still unsure if the high-end turntable market ‘gets’ the notion of a turn-key turntable like this. While there was a long hiatus when turntables were starting to be discussed in the past tense, audiophiles before and after the vinyl revival almost universally selected the turntable, arm, and cartridge from a selection rather than select them as a single entity. Even brands that provide all the links in the chain (Clearaudio, for example) don’t specify their high-end models as a turnkey solution.